The Black Circus, Part 1 - Letters

Release date: September 8th 2006
Massacre Records

Provided by: Intromental Management

Distribution: Target (Denmark)
Power Metal

Rating: 80/100
Reviewed by:
Kenn Jensen
July 31st 2006

Having followed Manticora ever since their early days, this album comes as no surprise! Both of their previous albums “Hyperion” and “8 Deadly Sins” has been conception albums dealing respectively with Dan Simmon’s “The Hyperion Cantos” sci-fi novel and the story of a man, who on his death bed reflects on his past life and sins committed respectively. “The Black Circus” is a two-part concept album – part two will be released early 2007 - telling a horror story of a travelling circus in the 19th century New England. So another dark story to be told…

If you are familiar with their earlier albums, then there’s no need to worry – they are continuing down the same path as their earlier albums, off course still evolving with an eye on the details. Tommy Hansen seems to be their producer of choice, so their sound and style is easily recognizable again… good job by Mr. Hansen. The cover has been made by none other than Leo Hao (Rage, Blind Guardian, Iced Earth) - and the result is great…

So all the basics are in place! So is this their best album to date? No, I’d have to say - because I do have my problems with a few minor things… their influences are at times too blatantly obvious - like in almost all of their choirs with Blind Guardian, or in some their more progressive passages with Beyond Twilight, and some the interludes could easily have been written for an King Diamond album… and last but not least; I do have my problems with Lars’ voice on this album…at times he simply get on my nerves.

But does this mean the album suck? No, this is still a very good power metal album with some nice progressive metal passages, which I really dig big time. The guitar work on the album is their best to date, and songs like “Forever Carousel”, “Gypsies’ Dance pt. 1” and “Wisdom” are some the best songs from them ever, and makes you look forward to Part 2. Manticora has once more delivered a great album - it’s just such a shame so few have noticed their earlier album, maybe it’ll change with this one…?